At Least 5 People Die Daily In Road Traffic Accidents In Zim
14 January 2022
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By A Correspondent- At least five people die in road traffic accidents every 24 hours in Zimbabwe, giving the country the worst mortality rate in the Sadc region, with the Plumtree highway as one of the hotspots.

This is according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Road Safety Performance Review report of December 2021 that was launched in Harare on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development of Zimbabwe requested support of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety to carry out a national Road Safety Performance Review (RSPR) for Zimbabwe.

The support is provided through the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (Unece) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) as a global initiative to assist governments to strengthen road safety management capacities of developing countries.

According to the report, Zimbabwe records an estimated 665 deaths and over 10 000 injuries per year due to road traffic accidents, with the Chivhu, Plumtree and Rusape highways having the worst mortality rates. A road accident occurs every 15 minutes in Zimbabwe and this represents a 35 percent increase in 10 years.

Zimbabwe has the highest road crash mortality rate among its neighbours — 35 per 100 000. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Road Safety Report of 2018, Botswana has the lowest road crash mortality rate of 23 per 100 000, followed by South Africa 25,9, Namibia 30 and Malawi 31.

The recently released Road Safety Performance Review report states that in eight years, between 2011 and 2019, there has been a 77 percent increase in the number of second-hand public and private vehicles in Zimbabwe from an estimated 800 000 to 1 500 000.

According to the report, Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) official statistics show an increase in road traffic crash fatalities of three percent between 2010 (1 291 fatalities) and 2019 (2  000 fatalities).

“Five people die every day on the roads in Zimbabwe and this translates to 153 persons killed per month. Estimates by TSCZ research in 2018 showed that the country loses about US$406 million annually from an average 40 000 road traffic accidents every year, and this is estimated to be almost three percent of the gross domestic product; estimated at US$14 billion,” read the report.

The recently rehabilitated, upgraded and modern Plumtree-Mutare-Plumtree highway, according to the report, leads in fatalities, where major national disasters occurred.

“Compared to the Beitbridge-Chirundu Road which is considered the worst and most busy of the two highway corridors in Zimbabwe, TSCZ reports that in 2016 the upgraded Plumtree-Harare Road recorded 367 crashes, while the Harare-Mutare section contributed 202: a total of 569 fatal crashes in a single year.”

“The Kwekwe national disaster on the Plumtree-Mutare Road on 3 March 2016 killed 31 people and injured 36. On the same road, another disaster in 2016 near Gweru killed 10 people and injured 13. The Rusape bus accident disaster on the same highway killed 50 people in 2018.”

Buses, according to the report, contribute half of the total road traffic accidents around the county.

“According to the WHO, drivers and passengers of the bus category account for 50 percent of the total fatalities recorded in 2017, followed by pedestrians at 16 percent. Drivers and passengers of four-wheeled cars and light vehicles contribute 13 percent, drivers of four-wheeled cars and light vehicles eight percent, riders of two or three-wheeled motorised cycles 6 percent, pedal cyclists’ four percent and drivers/passengers of heavy trucks three percent. The high numbers of bus-related fatalities show a need in this category, consisting of the poorest most vulnerable population.”

With regard to pedestrian vulnerability, WHO notes that an estimated 2 000 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles between 2013 and 2016, while an estimated 30 000 were injured, giving an average 665 deaths and 10 000 injuries per year.

In 2021, Zimbabwe recorded 77 road-related deaths during the just-ended Christmas holidays, up from 67 recorded during the same period in 2020.

In November last year, two people died on the spot while scores were injured when a haulage truck and a Nyaradzo Funeral Services bus that was carrying mourners collided along the Bulawayo-Harare highway near Cement Siding.

The mourners were returning from Lower Gweru in the Midlands province after burying a relative when the bus driver is said to have encroached into oncoming traffic while trying to overtake.

The bus collided with the haulage truck that was carrying approximately 40 000 bricks.-statemedia